Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Over 500 forest villages in Assam: Ministry of Tribal Affairs

The paper stresses the longstanding grievances of tribals regarding encroachment, voiced by the CCTOA on Tuesday

Sabrangindia 24 Jun 2022

Govt Data
Image Courtesy: thehinducentre.com

Research records maintained by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) show that Assam has in all 524 forest (non-revenue) villages since 1901-02, as discovered by the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP). The decades-old document also showed how families have been complaining of encroachment issues since the early 1900s – an issue that local activists have protested for decades and even recently.

A research paper titled ‘Problems of Forest Villages in Assam Inhabited by Tribals’ by G. C. Sharma Thakur showcases how forest villages were established during the creation of reserved forests for “having regular work force for the plantation and maintenance of trees of the reserved forests.” The first such village was established in undivided-Assam.

“At present Assam has 524 forest villages within the jurisdiction of the reserved forests covering almost all the present [paper written in 1901-02] districts. Slightly more than three percent of area under reserved forests are in occupation of forest villagers. 47’11 percent of forest villagers belong to scheduled tribes. 233 out of 524 forest villages have more than 50 percent tribal population,” said the paper.

Thakur said that tribals are deprived of many benefits if they lived outside these non-revenue villages. This despite most of indigenous groups living in the forests since before Independence.

Further, encroachment of forest had become an issue for the government and locals alike since 1901. Two landless informants surveyed in the study said they had to earn their livelihood by working in the houses of fellow villagers. Only 10 families at the time said they had 20-30 bighas of land.

Back then, the forest laws did not allow development departments to undertake welfare and development schemes meant for tribals. Villagers were also disallowed from mortgaging land under their possession to financial institutions since “the lands belong to the forest department”.

All this changed over the years, especially after the enactment of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 wherein the law recognized forests as the inherent property of tribals in the area.

Recently, even the Guwahati court showed support for the spirit of this Act by directing District Deputy Commissioners to take action against forest land encroachers. The court order warned that officers delaying this process will have to pay for imposing costs. Yet, there has been no action by the concerned authority to remove such encroachment.

To ensure that such laws and court orders are properly implemented, local activists led by the Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organizations of Assam (CCTOA) gheraoed (surrounded in protest) the Sonapur Circle Office on June 21, 2022. They demanded that encroachers and illegal industries be evicted from tribal belts and blocks. They also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asking the government to halt evictions of tribal people. Instead, it called upon the government to issue land patta to the tribals and to include Mising, Rabha Hasong and Tiwa people under Schedule 6 of the constitution. Other groups like the Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK) also joined the demonstration for the assertion of tribals’ forest rights.

Related:

Evict people encroaching upon tribal land: Assam’s CCTOA
Floods wreak havoc in Assam’s Barak valley
101 die in Assam floods, say ASDMA on Thursday
CJP Assam Team perseveres despite heavy rains, floods and landslides
CJP strengthens commitment to our fellow Indians in Assam in 2021
800 kms, 5 districts: CJP goes the extra mile to locate detention camp inmate’s family

Over 500 forest villages in Assam: Ministry of Tribal Affairs

The paper stresses the longstanding grievances of tribals regarding encroachment, voiced by the CCTOA on Tuesday

Govt Data
Image Courtesy: thehinducentre.com

Research records maintained by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) show that Assam has in all 524 forest (non-revenue) villages since 1901-02, as discovered by the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP). The decades-old document also showed how families have been complaining of encroachment issues since the early 1900s – an issue that local activists have protested for decades and even recently.

A research paper titled ‘Problems of Forest Villages in Assam Inhabited by Tribals’ by G. C. Sharma Thakur showcases how forest villages were established during the creation of reserved forests for “having regular work force for the plantation and maintenance of trees of the reserved forests.” The first such village was established in undivided-Assam.

“At present Assam has 524 forest villages within the jurisdiction of the reserved forests covering almost all the present [paper written in 1901-02] districts. Slightly more than three percent of area under reserved forests are in occupation of forest villagers. 47’11 percent of forest villagers belong to scheduled tribes. 233 out of 524 forest villages have more than 50 percent tribal population,” said the paper.

Thakur said that tribals are deprived of many benefits if they lived outside these non-revenue villages. This despite most of indigenous groups living in the forests since before Independence.

Further, encroachment of forest had become an issue for the government and locals alike since 1901. Two landless informants surveyed in the study said they had to earn their livelihood by working in the houses of fellow villagers. Only 10 families at the time said they had 20-30 bighas of land.

Back then, the forest laws did not allow development departments to undertake welfare and development schemes meant for tribals. Villagers were also disallowed from mortgaging land under their possession to financial institutions since “the lands belong to the forest department”.

All this changed over the years, especially after the enactment of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 wherein the law recognized forests as the inherent property of tribals in the area.

Recently, even the Guwahati court showed support for the spirit of this Act by directing District Deputy Commissioners to take action against forest land encroachers. The court order warned that officers delaying this process will have to pay for imposing costs. Yet, there has been no action by the concerned authority to remove such encroachment.

To ensure that such laws and court orders are properly implemented, local activists led by the Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organizations of Assam (CCTOA) gheraoed (surrounded in protest) the Sonapur Circle Office on June 21, 2022. They demanded that encroachers and illegal industries be evicted from tribal belts and blocks. They also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asking the government to halt evictions of tribal people. Instead, it called upon the government to issue land patta to the tribals and to include Mising, Rabha Hasong and Tiwa people under Schedule 6 of the constitution. Other groups like the Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK) also joined the demonstration for the assertion of tribals’ forest rights.

Related:

Evict people encroaching upon tribal land: Assam’s CCTOA
Floods wreak havoc in Assam’s Barak valley
101 die in Assam floods, say ASDMA on Thursday
CJP Assam Team perseveres despite heavy rains, floods and landslides
CJP strengthens commitment to our fellow Indians in Assam in 2021
800 kms, 5 districts: CJP goes the extra mile to locate detention camp inmate’s family

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

India

Teesta Setalvad | A powerful voice for India’s human rights movement

For the last thirty years, Teesta Setalvad has been one of India’s most important voices for human rights, freedom and justice for all.

As she comes under attack from a vindictive state as well as fake news peddling troll armies, let us look at some of her recent interventions and accolades.

 

India

Teesta Setalvad | A powerful voice for India’s human rights movement

For the last thirty years, Teesta Setalvad has been one of India’s most important voices for human rights, freedom and justice for all.

As she comes under attack from a vindictive state as well as fake news peddling troll armies, let us look at some of her recent interventions and accolades.

 

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives